Microsoft said the data had been “normalized” to account for the different numbers of computers running each version of the operating system, with Windows 8 machines showing a 1.73% infection rate and Windows 8.1 (the latest version) just 0.08%.
The software giant credited the apparent insecurity of Windows 7 and Vista with a new threat from ‘Rotbrow’ malware targeting internet browsers, but security experts say this doesn’t mean that XP is more secure than more recent operating systems.
Speaking to The Independent, Graham Cluley pointed out that users of more modern versions of Windows could be exposing themselves to greater risks simply by using the internet more.
We’re hopeful that the number of Windows XP computers is rapidly diminishing, and that fewer and fewer of them are being used to regularly access the internet,” said Mr Cluley.
“If you think about it, if you have an old creaky computer still running Windows XP and a Windows 7 computer – which one are you more likely to be using regularly?”
Mr Cluley also notes that the statistics from Microsoft’s report cover a time period when Windows XP was still receiving regular security updates – fixes that Microsoft stopped issuing at the beginning of April this year.
Microsoft is also soon to issue its latest release of security patches on May 13 (an event referred to as Patch Tuesday) which, for the first time, will no longer include updates to Windows XP but will highlight vulnerabilities to the operating system.
Users of more recent Windows operating systems are recommended to download Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) to block malware and, if still running Windows XP, to upgrade as soon as possible.